J for Jobs

Mahadeva being felicitated by Karnataka Chief Minister. Image courtesy: bangaloremirror.com

No I am not talking about Steve Jobs but about the jobs most of us do for a living. Those more often than not 9-5 jobs that most of us crib about. You may be a doctor, lawyer, engineer ,teacher, cop or a business man and expect to meet more people with such jobs. Today, I am writing about a man named Mahadeva with an unusual job. His job is to bury the unclaimed corpses from city hospitals.

The reel-like real story of this man starts when he is barely three or four and his mother leaves their family and village and vows never to come back. She tried to make a living for herself in the new place but fate willed otherwise and she fell ill within three years. The doctors advised her to be taken to a better hospital and that led them to the Victoria Hospital in Bangalore. His mother gave the last pieces of jewelery she had and pleaded to be taken into the hospital. Mahadeva in the meanwhile slept in the hospital verandah, played along with the street children, begged for food from the street side vendors and led a “happy” life . About two weeks after that when he went back to the hospital, the orderly, Krishnappa, who had taken his mother in stopped him and asked “Don’t you know your mother is
dead?”. Krishnappa had buried her after the hospital had waited the statutory 3 days for someone to
claim her body.

Praveen

Praveen, Mahadeva's son. Image: beyondfocus.in

A few in the hospital raised money to send him back to his village but Mahadeva didn’t want. He had nowhere to go when Krishnappa, the 80-year-old orderly, took him to stay with him. Krishnappa had no one either. Mahadeva grew up with Krishnappa( he called him tatha, meaning grandpa) running errands in the hospital.  And then, one day, the cops asked him to bury an unclaimed dead body and paid him Rs 200 for the job. This was when Mahadeva entered his profession and eventually became the go-to guy for burying the city’s unclaimed corpses. He had to do everything from pull the stiff body from the morgue to dig a hole and bury the body. When his tatha, his loved one, died in 1971 he realised what death of an intimate one can be and garlanded the body before burying him. From then on he made it a practice to garland every body he buried. He believes everyone deserves respect and
no one should feel ‘unwanted’ in death, even if life had treated them that way.

He later bought a horse(Ammu) to carry the dead who died after carrying about 25000 corpses. He till date mourns that he was not allowed to bury Ammu. But Ammu is now his business logo and part of his business card and also part of the pictures on his autos that he bought later to carry the dead. This life does not come without a cost though. When he wanted to get married, nobody wanted to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to him. He had to pay Rs. 2000 as the bride money to marry the girl. Now he has four children and lives with them in a rented place in Bangalore.

Mahadeva has buried more than 77, 882 corpses in his lifetime and his dedicated service had earned him Phenomenal public recognition. He has also become an HR case study after Subroto Bagchi, from MindTree, mentioned him in his book “The Professional”. Local petrol pumps do not charge him when his hearse is topped up and the Chief Minister of Karnataka felicitated him for his selfless service to the abandoned citizens of Bangalore. Mahadeva is proud of his work and business, and today his eldest son, Praveen, doing graduation, has also joined him and proudly continuing the tradition.

Hats off to his service!!!

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H for Holi Hai!!!

To start with, Happy Women’s Day!!! 😀 to all the lovely ladies out there.

Holi_Hai

Holi-Hai!!!

What better topic than Holi this week. Being celebrated on 20th March this year, it is celebrated on the last day of Phalguna month of the lunar calendar i.e. at the end of winter.  Holi, the Indian festival of colours, is well known through out the world.  So I am not writing more about the way it is celebrated, I am diggin’ into H for History a little.

As with history, there are multiple stories surrounding the festival. All of them invariably on the theme of victory of good over evil and onset of new season spring, the season of love. I am writing one of  them here.

Long ago there lived a king named Hiranyakashapu who had forbidden his subjects to worship anybody other than him. But, as fate had it, his very own son Prahlad was an ardent worshipper of  Lord Vishnu. He decided to seek his sister Holika’s help as she had a boon that she could enter the fire and come out unscathed. She coaxed Prahlad, the King’s son, to sit on her lap and entered the fire. Prahlad kept chanting the Lords name and came out unhurt but Holika unaware that the boon works only when she enters the fire alone got burnt in the fire.

The festival gets the name “Holi” from Holika. This marks the triumph of good over evil, the victory of a true devotee. Even today people burn the effigies of Holika(Holika dahan) and huge bonfires are lit to mark the festival. People also offer grams and stalks from the harvest to ‘Agni Devta’ (God of Fire). Lord Krishna (reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) seem to have started the trend of colours by applying the colour on Radha and the other Gopikas.

Whatever be the reason, all of us love to play with the colours and have unlimited fun on this day. Enjoy maadi…Holi Hai!!!!

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G for Golgappa

Golgappa

Golgappa-picture used for reference only. Actual results may vary 😛

Golgappas epitomize the Indian street food.They are also known as Panipuri, Puchkas and gupchup. Popular throughout India in various flavors. I have survived on this food for long. There were times when this was my dinner. The number of pani puris you can eat can make a champ at the panipuri eating challenge. The sweet,spicy and tangy flavor just leaves you wanting for more no matter how much you eat.

Like I mentioned there are various ways of making it. Each region has its own way of making the fillings. Here I am sharing one way of making it.

Puri’s can be bought from your friendly neighbourhood store in most places. For all the places where it is not available here is how you make them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rava/semolina/sooji
  • 1/2 cup urad dal flour
  • 1/4 cup maida/all-purpose flour
  • little less than 1/4 cup atta/whole wheat flour
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • baking soda-a pinch(optional)
  • water for kneading
  • oil for frying

Procedure:

  • Mix all the flours, rava, ghee and salt, soda and knead them into dough by slowly mixing water.
  • cover it with a damp cloth and leave it aside for 20-30 mins
  • Now knead the dough again and make small balls of the dough and roll them into small,thin,round rotis or alternatively you could roll out the dough into a big roti and cut out small puris using a rim of a katori.
  • Deep fry them on medium flame till they puff and are golden brown in colour. Drain them on absorbent paper and store in an air-tight container.

Now the interesting part: Pani

Ingredients:6-7 cups cold water
1/2 cup packed pudina leaves(mint)
1/2 cup Tamarind (Imli) Pulp
2 tblsp Jaggary (Gur)
1 green chilli
1 tbsp amchur pwd
1/2 tsp chaat masala pwd
1/4 tsp cumin pwd
pinch of black salt (optional)
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
salt to taste

Sweet chtuney:
Mix the thin tamarind paste and jaggery to make a thin chutney
You can also add a little bit of red chilli powder to make it more spicy

Mint tangy Chutney:
Make a paste of mint leaves, green chilli and keep aside
Take a vessel, add the cold water in it, followed by the green mint paste and combine well.
Add cumin powder, chaat masala powder, amchur powder, black salt,salt to taste. Garnish with coriander leaves. Chill in refrigerator till use.

Serving pani-puri:
Crack a small hole in the centre of each puri, fill it with spiced mashed potato, finely chopped onion, 1 spoon of sweet chutney, immerse it in the chilled mint chutney water and eat immediately. 😀 of course without spilling the pani all over your dress.

Link for ABC Wednesday here

F for Fairy Tales

Cinderella

Cinderella

Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Lochinvar, Alladin are few of the characters that we grew up with. Fairy tales, fables and folk-lore are store houses of imagination and creativity and moral values. Fairy tales are not just bedtime stories for kids, they are in fact the carriers of culture. They are a source of inspiration. They set the values, expectations and the moral right and wrong. They have a deep impact on us during our formative years. The have a big role in shaping us into who we are, our attitudes and beliefs.

I happened to attend a session by Laura Liswood this week and found a new perspective on the fairy tales. She categorizes the fairy tales in two categories

  • Hero’s Journey – The hero has to slay a dragon, save the kingdom,…., overcome great odds in spite of a powerful enemy and in return when he comes back he gets a part of the gold, keys to the kingdom or the fair maidens hand in marriage. Most Hollywood and almost all Bollywood movies use this theme. I am sure you will come up with n number of examples for this. These are the ones preferred from a leadership perspective since they inspire and teach you perseverance, fighting against odds and the like
  • “Rescue Me” Story – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel. In all these stories it is the beautiful maiden who is in trouble (evil step mother, evil step sisters….) and rescued later by her prince charming.

Turns out these fables also set perceptions of gender appropriate behavior within society apart from other morals. This shows how girls are acted upon rather than active. Beauty seems to be the key factor for girls as opposed to boys where power, strength, and wit are the key factors.The rescuer or hero is always the white Knight.To be found by your prince charming/getting married to your prince is the only way to salvation for a girl. Beauty and ghar ka kaam kaaj(household work) seem to the defining factors.

These stories reinforce the gender stereotypes and it conditions children to think of the world thus.This way we are giving a very subtle message to the children on the accepted behavior for one self and also what to expect from others. One may say that these had been written long time ago. Nevertheless they still have a profound impact on the young minds.

I guess we need some new fairy tales for the modern times. Time to let go of a few Cinderellas and find new ones.

Link for ABC Wednesday here

E for Epitaph

Kohima_Epitaph

Kohima_Epitaph

This is the famous epitaph on one of the war memorials in Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, India.

The epitaph says

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

The Kohima 2nd Division Memorial is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on behalf of the 2nd Infantry Division. The memorial remembers the Allied dead who repulsed the Japanese 15th Army, a force of 100,000 men, who had invaded India in March 1944 in Operation U-Go. Kohima was a vital to control of the area and in fierce fighting the Japanese finally withdrew from the area in June of that year.

According to the Burma Star Association the words were used for the Kohima Memorial as a suggestion by Major John Etty-Leal, the GSO II of the 2nd Division.

This is thought to have been inspired by the Greek lyric poet Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC) who wrote after the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC:

“Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,
That faithful to their precepts here we lie.”

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